Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Extra Unhealthy Spinach Salad

This salad is no diet salad! I love it for the taste not for the calorie count.

It includes, but is not limited too, spinach, bacon, egg, cheese, tomato, and I would normally add avocado but I don't have any right now.

Today I made, for the first time, homemade ranch dressing, and I decided to use this for the salad although blue cheese dressing would work wonderfully instead.

I absolutely LOVE ranch dressing, in fact there are many things I refuse to eat unless I have ranch dressing! I thought it would be fun to make my own ranch today, although it left a bit to be desired for my taste. I didn't really enjoy this particular recipe because it produced an extremely thick dressing. I am one of the few people who prefers my ranch extra liquidy, for lack of a better word. I enjoy my ranch Claim Jumper or Red Robin style. But I know many people enjoy thick creamy ranch so I will share the recipe.

The ranch did have a nice flavor and would probably be quite tasty with chicken strips and would be perfect for dipping carrots and other veggies but it wasn't the best salad dressing. (I am just glad I don't pour dressing on top I normally dip... this dressing would have seriously weighed my salad down).

Anyway, I hard boiled eggs for the first time today as well as made baked my own flour tortilla chips so over all today was pretty successful in my food explorations. I knew starting this blog would encourage me to spend more time in the kitchen.  

Ingredients: 3 flour tortillas, olive oil, garlic salt Baked @ 400 for 6 minutes


For dessert I enjoyed one of my all time favorite chocolate bars, 

Trader Joe's "The Dark Chocolate Lovers Chocolate Bar"
It is VERY dark chocolate (85% Cacao) so this isn't a bar for milk chocolate lovers; in fact most dark chocolate lovers I know think its too dark but boy do I love it!

: )

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Chocolate Whoppie Pies

Okay so I am sure I broke a rule or two but I skipped way ahead and decided to bake a recipe from Baked Explorations even though Club:BAKED doesn't start up for another few weeks.

I am getting ahead of myself... let me start over.

I recently decided to join a baking group after my sister, The Ginger Snap Girl, told me about it. The group is going to be baking through the book Baked Explorations by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito. Every two weeks a member picks a recipe that everyone then bakes and writes a post about how it went. I am a little nervous because I have trouble sticking with things and I am also a terrible baker... but maybe this will change that.

Anyway, while I was flipping through this beauty book again today I decided I wanted to try out a recipe. I thought that the Chocolate Whoopie Pies seemed basic enough and I already had most of the ingredients so I dove right in!

 I ran into quite a few problems along the way...
The recipe calls for buttermilk (the one ingredient I don't have) so I did a little internet research and found some substitution options

• 1 cup buttermilk = 1 cup plain yogurt
• 1 cup buttermilk = 1 cup milk plus 1 Tablespoon vinegar or lemon juice (let stand for 10 minutes before using in recipe)
• 1 cup buttermilk = 1 cup milk plus 1-3/4 teaspoons cream of tartar
• 1 cup buttermilk = 1 cup water plus 4 Tablespoons powdered buttermilk
• 1 cup buttermilk = 1/4 cup milk plus 3/4 cup yogurt

just my luck... I didn't have any of these substitutes either. The closest option I had was low fat vanilla yogurt, so that's what I used. 

Now I don't really know very much about baking especially when it comes to the chemistry of things but I think using the yogurt may have been the reason my cakes puffed up instead of baked flat like in the books photo. Mine came out like muffin tops!

 While they were still baking I got started on the Swiss Vanilla filling. To make this I had to do a bunch of things that are WAY beyond my baking abilities not to mention my mixer only has a wisk attachment... no paddle attachment like the recipe calls for. Once again I just worked with what I have.

Well my Swiss Vanilla filling came out pretty good and I wanted to try the Peanut Butter filling alternative so after filling half of my pies with the vanilla I went to work on the peanut butter. I am not sure what happened but it didn't come out ANYTHING like my vanilla batch. It was thin and liquidy ... not thick and fluffy like I expected. I even tried adding powdered sugar to thicken it up but it didn't. I had some left over from the vanilla batch so I added a bit of the peanut butter version to the original and used that for the rest.

These were my final result. I ended up with 18 Whoopie Pies all overflowing with cream. They actually tasted pretty good but I would have preferred the cake to have a richer chocolate taste. Over all it wasn't the worst attempt ever but I will be excited to try them out again when Club:BAKED gets to it. Next time I plan on using all the right ingredients and skipping the peanut butter option.

Oh one more thing...
I had a tiny bit of left over batter... only enough for ONE pie. I left it out while all the cakes were cooking because I couldn't decide what to do with it. I thought "hey why waste it?" I putt the remaining drops on a baking sheet and cooked the two pieces for 4 minutes. They came out looking almost like the version from the cook book, not puffy like my others. Maybe next go around I will let my batter sit out a few minutes before I bake it.